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Centrifuge Study of Pilot Tolerance to Acceleration and the Effects of Acceleration on Pilot Performance

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Centrifuge Study of Pilot Tolerance to Acceleration and the Effects of Acceleration on Pilot Performance


Published November 1, 1960
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A research program the general objective of which was to measure the effects of various sustained accelerations on the control performance of pilots, was carried out on the Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory centrifuge, U.S. Naval Air Development Center, Johnsville, PA. The experimental setup consisted of a flight simulator with the centrifuge in the control loop. The pilot performed his control tasks while being subjected to acceleration fields such as might be encountered by a forward-facing pilot flying an atmosphere entry vehicle. The study was divided into three phases. In one phase of the program, the pilots were subjected to a variety of sustained linear acceleration forces while controlling vehicles with several different sets of longitudinal dynamics. Here, a randomly moving target was displayed to the pilot on a cathode-ray tube. For each combination of acceleration field and vehicle dynamics, pilot tracking accuracy was measured and pilot opinion of the stability and control characteristics was recorded. Thus, information was obtained on the combined effects of complexity of control task and magnitude and direction of acceleration forces on pilot performance. These tests showed that the pilot's tracking performance deteriorated markedly at accelerations greater than about 4g when controlling a lightly damped vehicle. The tentative conclusion was also reached that regardless of the airframe dynamics involved, the pilot feels that in order to have the same level of control over the vehicle, an increase in the vehicle dynamic stability was required with increases in the magnitudes of the acceleration impressed upon the pilot. In another phase, boundaries of human tolerance of acceleration were established for acceleration fields such as might be encountered by a pilot flying an orbital vehicle. A special pilot restraint system was developed to increase human tolerance to longitudinal decelerations. The results of the tests showed that human tolerance of longitudinal deceleration forces was considerably improved through use of the special restraint system.


Year 1960
Language English
Book contributor NASA
Collection nasa_techdocs

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